Early Release From Prison, It Can Happen (If You’re Sick Enough)

jump for joy.jpg“Human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!” – Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters

It’s rare that I get the opportunity to say something positive about Orlando’s jail system or Florida’s prison system–so mark your calendars, the time has come. Ms. Betsie Gallardo is a 27 year old inmate in Broward State Prison, serving a maximum 5 year prison sentence for battery on a law enforcement officer (Batt LEO, as we call it) and resisting an officer with violence. The problem is, she’s dying from cancer, with only a few weeks left to live.

Early release for medical reasons can be difficult to obtain, and many inmates die by the time the process is completed. Ms. Gallardo’s release was not easy, in part due to the facts of her crime–she is HIV Positive and the officer she “bit” has been concerned ever since that she may have contracted the disease from Ms. Gallardo’s bite. Fortunately, the officer has not contracted HIV.

Ms. Gallardo is lucky, by Florida prison standards. The odds of getting a medical release are somewhat similar to the odds of winning Powerball two weeks in a row (no scientific studies here, just my legal opinion after practicing criminal defense in Orlando for 17+ years). It was the Florida Parole Commission that voted 2-1 on January 5th, 2011 to approve Gallardo’s medical release. But there are strings attached. She will be released to a Miami-Dade hospice, supervised on a type of house arrest. Congratulations Betsie.